Solicitor is one of the executors on the will, how little do they actually have to be involved and what can they charge for?

My gran recently passed leaving me, my brother and her solicitor as executors on the will. Myself and my brother are the only beneficiaries.

I would personally like to deal with everything myself as I spent the last year off work nursing her while she died so I am currently out of work with a lot of free time. My brother is also happy for me to do everything as he is at uni and very busy.

I firstly do not want the solicitor taking a percentage of the estate if I can do most things myself.

So what does the solicitor actually HAVE to do? There is no IHT and I have all the bank and estate documentation. Can I apply for probate. Will the solicitor contest this?

What can they charge me for? I have just sent a letter asking them to renounce their position but I expect they wont. Can they charge me everytime I send a letter like this?

If it turns out I can apply for probate myself then I am guessing I will need their signature on things. Will they charge me for this and what is an average charge?

Also I have a copy of the will at home but will they charge me for asking for the original will to send for probate? I have never used a solicitors before but hear all the fleecing stories so I am just trying to get my bearings before I approach them. Also this particular solicitors had a dodgy employee i the 1990's who stole £800 from my aunts estate which gives me more reason not to want to use them!

Thanks for any help, much appreciated. In death it seems everyone is out to rip you off!
15:19 Sun 12th Dec 2010
 
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Barmaid
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Unfortunately, as the solicitor has been appointed as an executor under the Will he is both entitled to act and to charge for doing so. You have done the right thing in asking him to renounce but you cannot force him to do so. I have no idea whether they will charge for the different things they ask - they are entitled to charge for any work they do. If you can persuade...
15:34 Sun 12th Dec 2010 Go To Best Answer

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I agree. There was a feature on Watchdog a while back regarding unscrupulous probate.
I think you should ask them to state their fees/percentage, and voice concerns about the previous problem, and see what they say.
There is a common misapprehension that an executor cannot benefit from a will. Not true; only a witness to the testator's signature may not be a beneficiary. A friend of mine, now departed, was under the same misapprehension and appointed his solicitor as executor as his only beneficiaries were his son and daughter. I managed to persuade him to change his will and name his children as executors. Provided the estate is not too complex, with ramifications for IHT and CGT, there is no need to appoint a solicitor as executor. The standard charge used to be 0.5% of the value of the estate plus fees. Nice little earner!
I'm afraid this doesn't answer your question. An executor can renounce his duties, but in the case of a solicitor, expecting to be paid, I can't see this happening.
Unfortunately, as the solicitor has been appointed as an executor under the Will he is both entitled to act and to charge for doing so. You have done the right thing in asking him to renounce but you cannot force him to do so.

I have no idea whether they will charge for the different things they ask - they are entitled to charge for any work they do. If you can persuade them to renounce there may be a small charge for them completing the Deed of Renunciation and providing this to the Probate Registry and also for providing the original Will.

If they will not renounce, you can try and persuade them to maintain a "watching brief" - ie you do all the work but provide them with copies of everything - after all the solicitor named as an executor has a duty to carry out his office. Also make sure the solicitor notifies you of the fees beforehand.

Just one question (without giving names) can you give me the exact wording of the appointment clause since there have been a run of cases recently where an incorrectly worded appointment clause has made the solicitor's appointment fail. That is potentially your only "out".
The solicitor can and is perhaps likely to charge your grandmother's estate for any and all time spent dealing with the will, including replying to your letter(s), at a rate somewhere between £150-300 per hour. It is very common for solicitors to advise people making wills to include them (solicitors) as executors - in fairness, this is sometimes genuinely advisable. Ethical/good solicitors will often more or less step aside when family member executors choose to finalise things amicably at minimal cost. For some initial advice I suggest you see the Citizens Advice Bureau, but others on AB better versed with these things than I am will possibly also offer advice (but do see the CAB who are usually quite helpful/useful)
.. unfortunately.

Try and screw them down on the service .. and the commission.
At least they will know you are watching what they do for their money.

Nicely illustrated Mike.
Interesting, Barmaid. One would presume that the solicitor appointed as executor was the one who drafted the will. If he cannot draft the appointment clause correctly (inexcusable in my opinion, given the plethora of legal precedents available) it calls into question his competence to administer the estate in the proper manner.
The solicitor isn't charging you- he/she is charging the estate. It is your mother's estate and she chose her executors so I'm not sure what entitlement anyone has to change those wishes.
Having said that, I would proceed as Barmaid suggests.
... sorry, I meant grandmother not mother.
That's mere semantics, Factor. The more the solicitor takes form the estate, the less there is to go to the beneficiaries.
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I appoint my granchildren <me> and <my brother> both of <our address> and the members at the date of my death in the firm <solicitors> of <solicitors OLD address> or the firm of <solicitors> of <solicitors OLD address> or the firm or business whether incoporated or not which at that date has suceeded to and carries on its practice (hereinafter called "my Trustees! which expression shall where the context so admits include the Trustee or Trustees for the time being of this my Will whether original additional or substitued) to be the Executors and Trustees of this my Will and I EXPRESS the wish that only one such member shall prove this my Will and act in the trusts hereof together with my said grandchildren.

The have moved their office since the writing of the will in 2006 to an address about 30 mins away. Do I have a get out clause there :)
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mike - precisely. I have heard solicitors taking up to 2.5% of the estate!
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Factor - I am sure an elderly lady was easily convinced that involving a solicitor would make it easier for the grandchildren without actually telling her the cons of this.
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Barmaid- I expect they wont renounce but I thought it was worth a shot. The watching brief.......can they fight against doing that? I mean do they have a right above myself or my brother to apply for probate?
Mere semantics, mike11111? You could say that about anything- laws, contracts....
It was the grandmother's will. I don't think it's generally a good idea to appoint a solicitor as executor but it seems that for whatever reason that's what this grandmother wanted unless it can be argued she was badly advised/induced by the solicitor.
But it's worth proceeding as Barmaid suggests
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Karl- thanks for your advice. I think I shall do that tomorrow morning :)
My point was that the beneficiaries ARE being charged, albeit indirectly. If the solicitor were not an executor, his 'cut' would go to them.
Clearly that's correct Mike, but it doesn't change the fact that the grandmother chose the executors. Would you argue the same point if the solicitor was the sole executor? Hopefully the solicitors in this case will agree to take a back seat and charge only a minimal fee.
Mike - you would be amazed!

Math if the firm is an LLP, that appointment clause is fine.
Just out of curiosity, what's an LLP? (I'm 13 years behind the times).
Limited Liability Partnership I think (more likely than licenced legal practitioner)

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